Bamboo Bikes – Making a Positive Difference?

Bamboo Bicycle by Calfee

Bamboo Bicycle - picture by Calfee

If you’ve been to a Cariloha store or read any of Cariloha’s literature, you probably know that bamboo is a convincingly useful resource that can be used to make almost anything these days – from clothing and bedding to flooring and scaffolding.

With that in mind, have you seen the numerous stories about bicycles, made out of bamboo, that are not only catching major air in the news, but also on the streets of Africa?

If you haven’t, here’s an informative article written earlier this year that will catch you up on the wheeling and dealing of these fascinating bamboo bikes:

From Reeds to Roads: Bamboo Bikes in Ghana
The answer to building sturdy, light, sustainable bikes in Africa can be found in the nearby reeds.


When Columbia University professor John Mutter went to Ghana in 2007, he noticed how necessary a reliable source of transportation was to people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.

“You can’t go to any of the poorer countries in Africa and not be struck by how many people get around by walking or bicycling,” said Mutter.

With roads in generally poor condition, it can take a long time to get from place to place, he said. Even the seemingly simple task of getting cash crops to market can be formidable.

“It’s pointless to grow vegetables for a market if you can’t get to the market” or keep track of market prices, he said. “Transportation can really be an inhibitor.”

So it made sense that many people got around by bike, but many of those bikes were meant for paved roads, and were very heavy and poorly made.

Bamboo was the natural solution, specifically a bike frame made of the sturdy shoots. Mutter was in Ghana as part of The Earth Institute at Columbia University’s Bamboo Bike Project. Click here to continue reading.